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glossary

Aka Kin - 赤金 - red gold, gold alloyed with copper.

Amida Yasuri - 阿弥陀鑢 - lines cut in the tsuba radiating out from the center.

Ana - 穴 - hole, opening in the tsuba; see hitsu ana, nakago ana, udenuki ana, etc.

Аo Kin - 青金 - pale gold, gold alloyed with silver.

Aoi - 葵 - literally - hollyhock - Alcea rosea (“tachi aoi” -立葵). However more often it means "futaba aoi" (双葉葵) - Asarum caulescens, known as wild ginger.

Ategane - 当金 - a metal plug placed in the Kozuka or Kogai-ana. Also refered to as Ume (埋).

Bori - 彫 - surface carving.

Воtan - 牡丹 - peony.

Chidori - 千鳥 - plover, a kind of bird often used in tsuba design.

Chu - 中 - medium sized, middle.

Dai - 大 - large, daito tsuba.

Danbira - 断平 - the width of a tsuba.

Dote Mimi - 土手耳 - a raised rim on a tsuba.

Eda Botan - 枝牡丹 - peony branch.

Fuchi - 縁 - the often ornamented collar on the sword handle next to the tsuba.

Fukurin - 覆輪 - a rim cover added to a tsuba, usually, but not always, a soft metal.

Gata - 形 - shape.

Gimei - 偽銘 - false signature.

Gin - 銀 - silver, also called shirogane.

Goishi - 碁石 - shaped like a go stone; thinner toward the edge.

Gumbai - 軍配 - a war fan.

Gunto - 軍刀 - general name of new army swords from 1876 to 1945.

Ha - 刃 - the cutting edge of a sword; a group or "school" of makers.

Hachi Mokko Gata - 八木瓜形 - mokko shape with eight lobes.

Hagane - 鋼 - steel; edge metal.

Hako-gaki - 箱書き - an inscription sometimes with attribution applied to wooden fittings boxes.

Hamidashi - 喰出し - A tsuba for a tanto, which is only slightly wider than the fuchi.

Hira - 平 - flat, also the flat part of the tsuba plate.

Hira Zogan - 平象嵌 - inlay that is flush with the surface of the tsuba.

Hiraji - 平地 - surface of the tsuba.

Hitsu Ana - 櫃穴 - the openings in the tsuba for the kozuka and or kogai.

Ikezukashi - 生透 - negative design openwork (same as Kage Sukashi).

Inaka Mono - 田舎物 - work of a country artist.

Inome - 猪の目 - looks like a heart to us, but it was a boar's eye to the old Japanese.

Iri Mokko Gata - 入木瓜形 - a mokko shape with deep cuts to the lobes.

Iroe - 色繪 - colored picture, referring to designs in various color metals.

Irogane - 色金 - colored metal, refers to various soft metals.

Ishime Ji - 石目地 - a punched plate finish texture that resembles stone.

Ita - 板 - plate.

Ito - 糸 - fine or thread, ito sukashi, ito bori, etc.

Ito fukurin - 糸覆輪 - a very thin style of fukurin.

Ito sukashi - 糸透 - very thin, thread like openwork.

Ji - 地 - the ground or plate of a tsuba, (with a different kanji refers to a written character).

Ji Sukashi - 地透 - positive design openwork (same as Yo Sukashi).

Jigane (Shingane) - 地金 (心鉄) - the base metal the plate is made of.

Jingasa - 陣笠 - a Japanese soldier's hat.

Juzu - 数珠 - beads, and the style of rim that resembles them.

Kabuto - 兜 冑 - a Japanese armor helmet.

Kaga zogan - 加賀象嵌 - a style of flush, colored metal inlay used in Kaga on fittings and stirrups.

Kagamishi - 鏡師 - Kagamishi a mirror maker, believed to have made cast bronze tsuba.

Kage Sukashi - 影絵透 - see Ikezukashi.

Kaji - 鍛冶 - sword maker, blacksmith.

Kakihan - 書き判 - a stamped or carved artist's seal. Literally means "written seal".

Kaku - 角 - square.

Kaku Gata - 角形 - square shaped.

Kaku Mimi - 角耳 - square rim.

Kaku Mimi Koniku - 角耳小肉 - a square rim with slight rounding, or "meat" to it.

Kakumaru Gata - 角丸形 - square shaped with extremely rounded corners.

Kanagu - 金具 - metal parts of the sword mounting not considered kodogu (seppa, habaki).

Kane - 金 - metal (same kanji pronounced kin means gold).

Kan-mimi - 管耳 - thicker rounder raised rims. Thicker and rounder than Dote Mimi .

Kao - 花押 - a signature in form of monogram (stylized kanji). The word is a compound of two kanji: "flower" and "to impress one's signature". Together they convey the sense of "a beautiful, flowerlike signature".

Karakuri - からくり - inlay attached to the plate with a pin.

Karakusa - 唐草 - an arabesque design motif of vines or branches.

Kashira - 頭 - the often ornamented cap on the end of the handle of the sword.

Katachibori - 容彫 - carved with a full motif.

Katakiribori - 片切彫 - a style of carving with a variety of line thickness and depth.

Katchushi - 甲冑師 - armor maker. Also a style of tsuba, which are considered to be made by armorsmiths.

Kawagane - 皮鉄 - a thin layer of different (usually harder) iron on the outside surface of a tsuba.

Kawari Gata - 変形 - different, variant shape.

Kebori - 毛彫 - fine line engraving or carving.

Kenjo - 献上 - a generic heavily decorated style of tsuba made for giving as a gift.

Kiku - 菊 - chrysanthemum. Kikugata chrysanthemum shaped.

Kin (Kane) - 金 - gold / metal in general.

Kinko - 金工 - metal worker, commonly refers to fancy soft metal tsuba.

Kittate - 切立 - very straight walled sukashi.

Ко - 小 (古) - small (or old), depending on the kanji used.

Koban - 小判 - an old Japanese gold coin, used to describe a shape of seppa dai.

Kodogu - 小道具 - the metal fittings of a sword mounting.

Kogai Hitsu (Ana) - 笄櫃 - the opening in the tsuba for the kogai (hair arranging tool).

Kokuin - 刻印 - a hot stamped surface design.

Koshirae - 拵 - the whole mounting of a sword.

Ко-sukashi - 小透 - small perforations, such as a single flower, or number of perforations of small size.

Kozuka Hitsu (Ana) - 小柄櫃 - Kozuka hitsu the opening in the tusba for the kozuka (utility knife).

Kuchibeni (Sekigane) - 口紅 (責金) - the small bits of soft metal added to the nakago ana to fit the tsuba to a sword. May be used also in the hitsu ana to prevent kozuka and kogai being damaged by tsuba of harder material.

Kuni - 国 - the old provinces of Japan, country.

Kusarakashi - 腐らかし - a surface treatment produced by intentional corrosion or etching.

Маdo - 窓 - window.

Маru - 丸 - round.

Maru Gata - 丸形 (圓形) - round shaped.

Маru Mimi - 丸耳 - round rim.

Matsukawabishi - 松皮菱 - a linked diamond shaped pattern, representing pine bark/tree.

Mei - 銘 - signature.

Migaki Ji - 磨地 - smooth surface finish on a tsuba.

Mimi - 耳 - the rim of the tsuba. (the dictionary definition is ear, which sort of makes sense).

Mokko Gata - 木瓜形 - the lobed shape.

Mokume Ji - 杢目地 - the steel is etched to bring out the pattern of the folding.

Mumei - 無銘 - unsigned.

Mune - 棟 - the back edge of the sword.

Nagamaru Gata - 長丸形 - oval shaped.

Nagegaku Gata - 撫角形 - a rounded off, slightly oval, square shape.

Nakabiku - 中低 - tsuba with the seppa dai lower (thinner) than the mimi.

Nakadaka - 中高 - tsuba with the seppa dai higher (thicker) than the mimi.

Nakago Ana - 中心穴 - the opening for the nakago (sword tang) to pass through.

Nanako - 魚子 - a punched pattern of raised dots, usually on soft metal fittings.

Nawa Mimi - 縄耳 - a rope pattern edge.

Nerikawa Tsuba - 練革鍔 - a guard made out of leather.

Niku - 肉 - meat, usually refers to thickness, swelling or rounding of the metal.

Niku Bori Ji Sukashi - 肉彫地透 - Ji Sukashi in which engraving has been done on the motif, instead of leaving a plain piece of openwork.

Nikuoki - 肉置き - overall arrangement of the metal in the piece. A pleasing variation on the surface by being well forged and hammered.

Nunome Zogan - 布目象嵌 - the surface of the tsuba is cut with a cross hatch pattern and metal is pressed in.

Odawara Fukurin - 小田原市覆輪 - a style of rim cover with a row of raised bumps.

Okigane - 置金 - soldered on inlay.

Omote - 表 - the front side.

Ototsu - 凹凸 - irregular thickness.

Rogin - 鑞金 - an alloy of copper and silver, also see shibuichi.

Sakura - 桜 - Japanese flowering cherry (lat. Prunus serrulata). A species of decorative trees in the family Rosaceae.

Sawari - 佐波理 - an alloy of tin, lead and copper, used as inlay on Hazama tsuba.

Sekigane (Kuchibeni) - 責金 (口紅) - the small bits of soft metal added to the nakago ana to fit the tsuba to a sword. Also soft metal insertions in hitsu ana, protecting kogai and kozuka from scratches.

Sen Zogan - 線象嵌 - line inlay.

Sendai Yasuri - 仙台鑢 - vertical file marks, tsuba with these are always attributed to Sendai.

Sentoku - 宣徳 - an alloy of copper, lead and zinc.

Seppa - 切羽 - the "washers" used on either side of the tsuba in a sword mounting.

Seppa Dai - 切羽台 - the "table" or area on the tsuba covered by the seppa, usually has no decoration.

Shakudo - 赤銅 - and alloy of copper and 3-6% gold; blue-black color.

Shibuichi - 四分一 - a 4 to 1 alloy of copper and silver; gray-silver color.

Shigure Yasuri - 時雨鑢 - vertical file marks made to look like falling rain.

Shikunshi - 四君子 - The "Four Gentlemen": Ume, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. Flowers which mirror positive human traits. Borrowed from the Chinese and linked to Confucian concepts. Also usually have seasonal associations.

Shinchu - 真鍮 - brass, yellow metal; old Japanese/Chinese brass looks different from modern.

Shippo - 七宝 - cloisonné.

Shiremono - 仕入物 - mass produced work.

Shishiai Bori (Nikuai bori) - 肉合彫 - low relief carving below the level of the tsuba surface.

Sho - 小 - small, wakizashi tsuba.

Shōchikubai - 松竹梅 - The Three Friends of Winter: The pine, bamboo and plum. All of them are symbols of winter, long life, and the cultured gentleman.

Sosho - 草書 - literally means "grass script", a cursive style of writing.

Suaka (Akagane) - 素銅 (赤金) - very refined copper that shows an orange-red hue when patinated.

Suemon - 据紋 - inlay of slightly raised metal covering a large area of the plate.

Sukashi (sukashibori) - 透 (透彫) - cut out open work.

Sukidashi (Sukibori) - 鋤出 (鋤彫) - a carving technique that leaves the design raised rather than cut in.

Sukinokoshi Mimi - 鋤残耳 - a raised rim produced by carving away the central portion of the surface of a tsuba.

Suritsuke Zogan - 摺付象嵌 - see Nunome Zogan.

Tachi-kanagushi - 太刀金具師 - a tachi fitting maker.

Tagane Ato - 鏨跡 - literally 'punch marks'. These refer to the punch marks left around the tsuba's Nakago ana to help facilitate at tighter fit of the tsuba on the sword.

Takabori (takanikubori) - 高彫 (高肉彫) - high relief "3D" carving.

Takaniku Zogan - 高肉象嵌 - high relief inlay.

Tekkotsu - 鉄骨 - iron bones: lumps of high carbon material visible on the tsuba, usually in the rim.

Ten Zogan - 点象嵌 - dot inlay.

Tetsu - 鉄 - iron.

Tetsugendo - 鉄元堂 - "Hall of the Iron Principle", a school founded in Kyoto by Okamoto Naoshige in the XVIII century. Okamoto Naoshige was born in Choshu and moved to Kyoto. He was a pupil of Kuniharu. Died in 1780.

Toban - 刀盤 - an old term for tsuba.

Tosho - 刀匠 - sword maker. Also a style of tsuba, which are considered to be made by swordsmiths.

Tosogu - 刀装具 - the parts of the mounting in general.

Tsuba - 鍔(鐔) - Japanese sword guard.

Tsubaka - 鐔家 - tsuba lover.

Tsubako - 鐔工 - tsuba maker.

Tsuchime - 槌目 - hammer marks.

Tsuchime Ji - 槌目地 - tsuba with the surface finished in visible hammer marks.

Uchikaeshi Mimi - 打返耳 - a dote (raised) mimi (rim) hammered from the plate and turned back.

Udenuki Ana - 腕貫穴 - two small holes by the lower rim of some tsuba representing sun and moon.

Ume - 梅 - Chinese plum or Japanese apricot (lat. Prunus mume). A species of Asian plum in the family Rosaceae. Was brought to Japan from China in VIII century. Also see Ategane.

Ura - 裏 - the back side.

Uttori - うっとり - attachment of inlay around its edges only.

Wa Mimi - 輪耳 - ring shaped mimi (rim).

Yakite Shitate - 焼手仕立 - a melted surface finish.

Yamagane - 山金 - ("mountain metal") unrefined copper, also called nigurome.

Yanone (Ya-no Ne) - 矢の根 - Japanese arrow head.

Yasuri - 鑢 - file marks or lines cut in the plate of the tsuba.

Yo Sukashi - 陽透 - see Ji Sukashi.

Zaimei - 在銘 - with Mei, signed.

Zogan - 象嵌 - inlayed metal.

Zu - 図 - figure or theme.

on the base of Tsuba Terms by Jim Gilbert.





periods in japanese history
Early Japan - before 710.

Nara - 奈良時代 - from 710 to 794.

Heian - 平安時代 - from 794 to 1185.

Kamakura - 鎌倉時代 - from 1185 to 1333.

Nambokucho - 南北朝時代 - from 1333 to 1392.

Muromachi - 室町時代 - from 1392 to 1573.

Momoyama - 桃山時代 - from 1573 to 1603.

Edo - 江戸時代 - from 1603 to 1868.

Meiji - 明治時代 - from 1868 to 1912.

Taisho - 大正時代 - from 1912 to 1926.

Showa - 昭和時代 - from 1926 to 1989.

Heisei - 平成時代 - from 1989 to present.




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